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How Does Ultrasound Transform The Prostate Cancer Treatment?

October 9th, 2017

How Does Ultrasound Transform The Prostate Cancer Treatment?

How Does Ultrasound Transform The Prostate Cancer Treatment?

According to a new study, highly powerful ultrasound waves can effectively kill prostate cancer cells without damaging or affecting the normal surrounding tissues. In terms of efficacy, ultrasound waves can be as potent as radiation therapy or surgery without any potential hazardous complications.

Investigators presented the results of the study in the European Association of Urology Congress to focus on the effectiveness of high-intensity focused ultrasound therapy (also commonly referred to as HIFU) on human prostate cancer cells.

Details Of The Study Of High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Therapy

As part of the study that was conducted by the British researchers at the University College Hospital (UCH), about 625 male patients were followed for a period of 11 years (between 2004 and 2015) who received the HIFU treatment for the management of non-metastatic localized prostate cancers.

The lead investigator. Dr. Hashim Ahmed explained at the meeting that about 93% male prostate cancer patients who received HIFU for the management of localized cancers (defined as cancer mass that remains confined within the glandular walls) remained cancer-free even after 5 years of initial therapy without needing any surgical or radiation therapy. The risk of adverse effects is also fairly low as less than 15% subjects developed erectile dysfunction and only 1-2% patients reported incontinence. It is noteworthy that patients who undergo surgery experience adverse effects in about 30-60% cases.What Is A Prostate Ultrasound? image

The results of this study were in line with the previous study conducted by Dr. Ahmed and his team in 2012 inwhich a smaller sample of men (about 41 men) were subjected to HIFU therapy. After the completion of therapy, about 95% patients remained cancer-free at 12-month follow-up. In addition, the risks and complications associated with HIFU were also found to be extremely low; for example, only 1 in 10 patients developed erectile dysfunction. No patient reported other common side effects like incontinence. The results of this remarkable study were published inThe Lancet Oncology.

Focused Approach Reduces The Risk Of Side Effects

It is no surprise that conventional treatment modalities like surgery or radiation therapy targets the entire body (besides the cancerous mass), which aggravates the risk of injur

y to the normal surrounding tissues such as rectum, penis and bladder. On the contrary, HIFU is highly target oriented that only focuses on the cancerous mass; thus, reducing the risk of complications to normal tissues.

In HIFU, cancerous cells are subjected to a temperature of 80-100°C, which is hot enough to kill cancerous cell. It is imperative to mention that normal tissues remain unaffected. Besides minimal risk of tissue injury, the treatment is also associated with no down time; in fact, the patient can be discharged from the hospital on the same day.

Prostate cancer is one of the most frequently reported cancer among US males. According to new estimates, more than 180,890 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the US in 2017. Globally, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer, accounting for about 1.1 million new cases each year.


  • Pasticier, G., Crouzet, S., Colombel, M., Rouviere, O., Rabilloud, M., Chapelon, J. Y., … & Gelet, A. (2015). Radical prostatectomy versus high intensity-focused ultrasound for localized prostate cancer: A matched-pair comparison.
  • Feijoo, E. R. C., Sivaraman, A., Barret, E., Sanchez-Salas, R., Galiano, M., Rozet, F., … & Cathelineau, X. (2016). Focal high-intensity focused ultrasound targeted hemiablation for unilateral prostate cancer: a prospective evaluation of oncologic and functional outcomes. European urology, 69(2), 214-220.

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